2.17.2006

REVIEW: Underworld: Evolution (Len Wiseman, 2006)

Three-hundred years ago, going unseen by human historians, the father of the werewolf race known as Lycans was imprisoned despite opposing pleas from his twin brother, the father of the vampire race. Now, the vampire progenitor has been awakened and seeks his confined brother to set him free, and only a select few are powerful and knowledgable enough to stop him. Kate Beckinsale leads the cast in this dark, action-packed adventure that picks up immediately after its predecessor left off.

What a great surprise!! I was extremely hesitant to see this sequel, and even bounced back and forth with the idea after I had sat down in the auditorium seat. Though the first one was very good considering what it was, I wasn't its biggest fan. I wasn't a big fan of Beckinsale either, and after all the piss-poor reviews for her second sky-eyed outing in tight leather it was really a matter of boredom that led me to Evolution, and man am I ever happy that I caught it in theaters!

We come in to some history that kicks off the surprisingly complex plot, featuring Bill Nighy as the first recognizable actor to reprise his role. I still can't look at him and not sing to myself, "I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes!" ... but he sets up well for us one of the few bad things about the movie - hackneyed performances. It would actually be a much shorter endeavor to list the bad about this movie than the good - and yes, I know how unbelievable that sounds. Another thing in the opening that prepares us for what is to come is the serious action. It is much better composed than most action films these days, and the choreography is great. Even better news is that while this opening rocks hard, it pales in comparison to the intense fight sequences that lay ahead.

The first Underworld impressed me in several ways, but mostly with its tendency to lean toward good physical effects over CGI. Evolution seems to have more computer graphics involved, but the good animatronics and on-camera effects are still very much in use.

Female actresses have been surprising me left and right lately by inspiring new and completely unforeseen infatuations. Recently we saw Reesie visit me in dreamland, now Beckinsale has captured my full attention. I haven't ever liked her before, but I really dug what she did here. And as you've undoubtedly heard and seen, she does look spectacular in her vampire garb, and dare I say she and co-star Scott Speedman put together one of the best steamy love scenes this side of Original Sin.

I'm excited to feel how much I enjoyed this film. I'm no stranger to vampire media, in fact I'm happy to admit that I find the modern takes from Blade to Anne Rice extremely alluring. The style, the immortality, the blood, it's all quite intensely sexy. Is this movie for everyone? Clearly not, judging from the reviews. What is my recommendation? It's definitely worth a rent if anything, though I would suggest catching it before it leaves theaters for the intimate experience with the visuals, the surround sound and the powerful score.

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